Untwisting Normal: The Power of Divorcing My Father

What some parents don’t want to remember their children can’t forget.

I’ve turned fifty, yet the child within me can’t help but remember.

In a small house in Arden, North Carolina in 1964, my mother tried to wake my father from a deep nap on the living room couch. Beer likely fueled that nap. I would soon learn even one or two lubed the gears of violence within that beautiful man.

But I was too young to know that then. I was a little past three years old. This ranks as my first memory of childhood.

My dad sprang from the couch, straddled and pinned my mother to the floor, and beat her so hard with his open hand her head thundered off the hardwood. She fought him, hard. Screamed for him to stop. I joined her. My cries fused with hers from where I stood, no more than six feet away, in some flannel pajamas. I remember the noise of his hand against her face. I remember the snap of her head. The blood. I don’t remember wounds, but I remember a spray of blood.

My mother soon lost the battle but won the night. She was athletic. Still is. No matter his strength, she rolled him off of her and crawled straight for me. I remember her arms, strong under me. She scooped me and ran. A bedroom, in this memory, became our nearest sanctuary with a door. I’ll not forget the feel of my mother’s hands on me, searching, I suppose, for a source of that blood. She eased down the roar of my tears and the throb of my heart and made me feel everything was all right, even when it wasn’t. Her face was red, I’ll not forget that. It wears crimson in my mind to this moment. I knew he had hurt her, terrified her.

But, she stayed.

Not far away, my parents soon built a new home on a cut-down old apple orchard in Weaverville, North Carolina. An aunt and uncle gave them the land just a few steps from their back door. It was a sweet life, having the feather-bed assurances of family as a neighbor. My father should have thrived, at peace with himself and my mom. He did, at times. Other times, he did not. He lived on a tire swing of the heart – swaying between the graces of a truly gentle man and beer-steeped rage. Sober, he was sweet, kind. Drunk, he lived low. He was mean and ragged, and didn’t seem to care that my mother and I knew it and suffered for it. He attacked her by the throat one night, vowing to kill her. I remember a chair exploding in that one. He threw it, and it crumbled into shrapnel against the hearth. I took charge then. In my underwear, I ran devotedly down the driveway to ring the back doorbell of my aunt and uncle for help. I was four.

But, again, she stayed.

I was four also when he left me alone at a little league baseball game to go off drinking with some lads he’d just met. I walked home. It was clear, from what came up in her eyes, he hit my mother hard and square in the heart with that one.

She raised hell with him. But, she stayed.

By the time I was seventeen, about to leap from high school to college man, he took a drunken swing at me, his first. He did it because I wouldn’t stop harassing him about the bottle of high dollar whiskey he poured into his mouth, and our lives, each night by then. He swung at me because I was fed up with feeling the threat of him haunt the air of the house, and my psyche, even when he wasn’t there. He missed. I made sure of it.

She stayed. I left.

My mom objected little when I moved in with my aunt down the driveway. I had only two weeks before I was to leave home for the independence of college life. But two more weeks with him were far too many. Somebody had to do something.

I did it. I divorced myself from my father.

My mother later told me she me she feared what the Bible said about divorce, so she had stayed. She stayed because they were building a life she didn’t want to surrender. She feared humiliation, failure, and how each can run like electric charge through the tongues of a small town. She stayed because he vacillated. He kept swaying between that gentle man she loved and the lunatic drunk she couldn’t recognize, and that was her normal. A twisted, jagged norm. It was her normal that he broke every dish in the kitchen one night, vowing to blow up the house. After that one, she had to talk me out of attacking him in his sleep. She stayed because it’s hard to change. Hard to bend the twists out of that normal. Easier to stay in the cage you know than run for the uncharted ground of freedom.

But because I finally ran for that freedom, things changed.

It took a few days, but my father sobered enough to realize I was gone. Gone for good, on every level of the catchphrase. Divorced from his toxicity. My mother describes him rolling on the floor of the kitchen, yellow as a banana with whiskey withdrawal, wailing. Screaming. He cried as if Death had hold of both ankles. He wanted, finally, to live. He wanted his son back. He wanted to take back the violence and what the mind-crackling threat of it had done to our peace.

But he couldn’t.

I share this because I’m not alone. These same strains of violence haunt homes and hearts of people you and I know, right now — down the street, across town, across the pew. If you’re reading this within a home or relationship that makes you anxious, afraid, hopeless, you are not alone.
I share this because to stay in violence is to play Russian roulette with your relationship, and with your children who live with it. Your children know. You may believe they’re okay because he never hit you in front of them. But they know.

And they will remember. I am proof.

I share this to get you to go.

Leave. Don’t wait. But leave safely. Seek the services and kind secrecy of a women’s shelter, whose caring professionals and volunteers will help you escape with your life, with your children’s lives. They will help save you and your children from having to remember another act of domestic war.

I am an advocate now. Having grown up trapped in my parents’ too-often violent marriage I am called to say even a single act of violence in a relationship is a deal breaker. Break away. Go. Get safe, and run. Run for your new life in peace.

I’m a rare and fortunate witness. Most men who see the violence I saw actually become violent adults. Their parents’ twisted normal becomes their twisted future. Counselors will tell you I’m an outlier. I did not see the rest of my life through the lens of my parents’ marriage, or my father’s tragic behavior. I saw peace instead. Peace, and the man I wanted to become — not the one I had lived with. But don’t expect this of children raised in witness to violence. To keep your children living in it, seeing it, is to risk raising an eventually violent adult. There’s a world of psychotherapy evidence to support this.

There is nothing so strong as a truly gentle man. I want every abuser who reads this to remember that. My memories are an abuser’s reminder: Violence — with words or hands — is permanent. You don’t get to take it back. Your legacy will live with it, even beyond your epitaph. Your children and the mother of your children can not erase that violent streak of you from their hearts and minds. To this day, if someone just drops something in a thud against the floor in my house, it shoots adrenaline through me. Shocks me full of the old feel of the home I grew up in. I know, it makes no sense, this far removed. But domestic violence is, after all, a dreadful nonsense all its own.

Now, here’s the good news.

My father and I more than reconciled. After I left him, determined never to see him again, he hit bottom. It was a low bottom, hard and cold as the floor of the grave that soon awaited him if he hadn’t stopped looking for peace in that bottomless liquor bottle. But he did stop. The man I eventually went home to – and it took a while — bore virtually no resemblance to the sometimes ferocious, broken man who had attacked my mom and assaulted the atmosphere of our home, for my entire life.

I forgave him. I deeply love him and respect the change he chose for his life. But that became possible only after I quit him. Staying would have enabled him to carry on his torment and die in its wreckage. In staying, I would have kept expecting God to be a puppeteer, a mortal magician, not the great God who expects us to live in faithful motion.

Einstein said it well: Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results is insanity. Trying to live with my dad, endlessly begging him to change, was my well-intended folly. When I ceased to make him my problem to solve, he embraced a faith that changed him from a poster boy of a major social problem into a truly beautiful man.

Yet he worried, right to the edge of his death, about the harm he’d caused. He could not forget either. Guilt rattled him. Neither he nor I nor my mother could take that away.

But I speak here for both of them. I am my father’s surviving voice, and in many ways this is his ironic love letter to the world. On his behalf I am called to emphasize that a man who hits women is a broken man, in need of repair work only he is responsible for getting done. He is solely accountable for figuring out how to respect himself and harbor authentic love for others. My sweet mother realizes this now. She wishes she had held my dad accountable by leaving him long before I did. I recently heard a wise minister say there is absolutely nothing in the Bible that justifies violence in the home, and that it’s never God’s will for someone to live with such violence. I believe my mom finds comfort in this truth now. I hope you do as well.

This is the truth of my memory. In it, you’ve caught sight of the child well-hidden behind the man many of you watch on television. That child rooted in violence has grown into a gentle man, whose present days abide in peace.

If yours do not, I pray the lessons of my past open doorways to your future. It bears saying here again: Leave. Seek safe shelter, knowing that leaving creates a dangerous time for abused women. But go. Divorce your entire life from violence and know the peace I have known.

Such peace is a foretaste of authentic love. And such love is what you deserve.

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143 Responses to “Untwisting Normal: The Power of Divorcing My Father”

  1. Wow! This is sad, yet such a beautiful ending. It is with God’s blessing that you are such a peaceful and wonderful man Michael.

    My mother was my tormentor. Not physically, but mentally and emotionally. I still struggle to overcome, yet I have come a long way.

    Thank you Michael for sharing your story.

  2. Your blog ignites memories not so sweet to recall, Michael. Life is difficult when you are facing a decision to leave your home and start over.

    While reading your words, I was reminded of the man my son has become, and how very proud I am of him. He witnessed this kind of behavior from his dad and his step-dad. I was also told by a counselor many years ago that he could become like them or choose the opposite, which he did. I feel very blessed and extremely grateful that he is a wonderful and very loving dad to his son, and much peace surrounds his life.

    Blessings to you….

    • Michael, When I read your story about your abuse from your dad, tears were streaming down my face because I too in a family of six siblings went through that same torture. My dad was just like you described yours, gentle and loving sober and mean as a snake when drunken. From my younger years, I watched him hit my mother on numerous times and whip my older brother’s when they would come home at night. I could hear my mother screaming, saying he was going to kill them. I hated him with everything in me. I too left and it broke my mother’s heart but she came to get me and I went back home. My mother finally divorced my dad and she was finally free and happy but on one misty evening on November 8, 1973, she was leaving work in Mauldin and was struck by a Metromont Cement truck. I came up on the accident and that image of her lying there will never leave my memory. I was 15. My father eventually got married soon after my mother’s death and still he drank but he never hit my stepmother that I know about. Once at a family Chrismas gathering at his home, he was drunk and we took a picture of him of how he looked and disgraced the family. i think that is all it took for him to come to his senses because he was losing everyone he cared about. My dad is now almost 84 and I love him with all my heart. I don’t think he remembers what he did back in the day but I will never forget it. I commend you for your success because it could have easily gone the other direction.

      May God Bless You!

      • What a wonderful truth you have shared! Thank you and blessing to all of those you love and who love you!

  3. Dr. "P." Says:

    Michael- Your work here is so riveting (thought provoking) and I must commend you on relating, so very well, a difficult period of your life. I am most pleased at how you have handled everything, and of course “how the story” ends. BUT GOD…!!!

  4. Wonderful message. Such a blessing for a man to write, to speak out. I am grateful that you were able to not fall into the cycle. Thank you.

  5. You put up a boundary and it worked. Cloud and Townsend’s book BOUNDARIES describes what you did. It was the right thing to do. It is a shame that more people don’t understand, or have the courage, to do what you did.

  6. Your words truly hit home. To this day, my sisters, brother and I live with the after affects of domestic violence and we’re in our fifties and sixties. The memories of terror and fear is forever with us.

  7. It is sad that it is “Easier to stay in the cage you know than run for the uncharted ground of freedom.” It’s true in so many areas of our lives – especially this one. Thank you for living a transparent life that points the way to what was an unchartered path for you. May many find the path you leave and follow it.

  8. Sabreena Gillespie Says:

    I went through this exact same thing at the age of 9. Only I was sexually abused as well as beaten, and told that if I ever told that he would kill my mother and brothers. Seeing how violent he was already, I wasn’t willing to take that chance. I remember being beaten so bad that I had bleeding whelps on the entire back side of my body. I remember one day that something on the shelf had gotten broken and he told my brothers and I that when we came home from school that if we didn’t admit who did it, that he was going to “punish” us all. On the bus home I was terrified, but I knew that if I didn’t do something we were all going to get hurt. When we got home I told him I broke it. He beat me so bad, it was the worst I could ever remember. Then came into my room, apologized and sexually abused me. My mom was a single mother who raised us to the best of her ability, and was unfortunate to have ended up with someone such as he. I have not ever, nor will I, blame my mom for what happened. I sometimes believe she thought it was her fault. Having gone through this has changed me, maybe not so much for the good, but I do not believe if you are raised with an abuser of any kind that you will automatically become one. It is a conscious choice that one makes to behave and act so vulgar. I choose to never put anyone through what I went through because I barely survived it, and still have the “scars” from it. I made a vow, long ago, that NO ONE will ever have that much power over me again, they will not lay their hands on me, abuse me, or make me fear. To this day (25 years later) I have kept that vow. I have no doubt that had I told my mom, she would have immediately removed us from the situation, but I also believe I wouldn’t have her here today because I know in my heart, he would have killed her or tried. It is because of my mother, her strength and stubbornness that I am the woman I am today. If I could give anyone any advise about abuse or being abused it is this-DO NOT SUFFER IN SILENCE! TAKE YOUR STAND BECAUSE I NOW KNOW….IF I AM GOING DOWN REGARDLESS, ITS GOING TO BE ON MY TERMS AND NOT WITHOUT ONE HELL OF A FIGHT!

  9. Michael: You have moved from news caster to admired public figure. Being a Pastor I urge people to not waste their experiences–
    share them so others can be helped by our experiences. I was verbally abused which I often wonder If doesn’t leave as bad scars
    as physical. Its taken me years, counseling,etc.to develop a healthy self-image—tho outwardly people always saw me as all-together & happy—, -my price w as DEPESSION unbearable.
    My ending is not as good as yours—-the abuser denies ever saying,,doing any of the things I recall so vividly. So, I forgave and divorced and have no desire to go back to the abuser’s mental illness.

  10. Thank you Michael.

  11. Fran Wilson Says:

    When reading your testimony, I thought back at my childhood. I think Dad’s drinking may have had something to do with his behavior. He never touched Mom, but he took out his anger on us. My brother and sister were rebels, so they got in trouble a lot. I being the eldest had the fear of God, and rarely did anything to be punished for. But whenever my brother or sister would not “fess up”, we all got punished.
    Also, from the age of 9 til I got married, my father molested me, giving me some “phobias” so to speak…we were not allowed to lock the bathroom door when in there, so sometimes he would creep inside. This caused me to fear any man hearing me pee. I also have trouble going to sleep, because he used to come in my room at night. I would pretend to be asleep, hoping it would discourage him, but it never did. It wasn’t until I was 20, had a son of my own, that when visiting my parents, he tried to make a pass at me in the hall. I was finally angry enough to tell my Mom about everything. Come to find out, even though my sister and I always shared a bedroom, he used to molest her, too. In fact, he actually went all the way with her. My Mom went to his boss (he was in the military) and he talked her out of doing anything about it, because it would ruin his career. When I was being beaten, sometimes I hoped for him to hurt me enough that I would have to go to the doctor, so I could tell someone what he was doing, but back then, children were not listened to like they are today. Besides, if they did nothing, I could imagine what my life would be like when he found out that I’d told someone.
    The story is much longer, and I have found my peace with all that happened. But I want you to know that I consciously decided back when I had my first child NEVER to raise my had on my children like he did. I have also had some counseling and that helped me a lot with my self esteem, and getting over what was bothering me.
    I had to care for my Dad, starting after Mom died in 2001, for 7 years. He finally killed himself as I walked in his house (he was expecting me, so it was not an accident that I witnesses it). I know he wanted to hurt me, because I did not give him all that coddling and selfless care he craved, I guess. I did my duties and tried to make his life pleasant, but there always has been that wall that kept me from honoring him, as apparently he thought he deserved. I forgave him a long time ago, in my heart and to his face.
    I have made my peace with all that happened.

  12. Marie Koth Says:

    I too grew up with a father like yours and my mother never left. Peace came only with his death. I have healed from the damage with God’s help and He is now using me at MARYS House in Pickens County that has a shelter and transitional services to help women and their children establish a new, peaceful life. Thanks for sharing your story. If anyone in Pickens County reads this and needs to escape violence call MARYS House office at 855-1708 or the shelter at 859-9191.

  13. I have to agree. I grew up in a turbulent home, and later, I had a turbulent marriage. I stayed in my marriage because my church said I had to stay. Divorce was wrong. After 10 years, I defied the church and divorced. However, every day I regret staying because my children lost out on knowing how a true man should treat his family. I wished every day that I had left sooner. I pray that someone will read your post and take to heart your message.

  14. Seeing you come into our homes every evening for all these years, I would have never known. God has truly one a work through you. I had to witness only a small portion of what you described but, then again, any is too much. I pray many read this and pass it along as I most certainly will!

  15. Thank you for sharing your experience. I pray that your words will bring comfort and courage to others in a similar situation. God Bless!

  16. What a wonderful example you are to all of us. Children never forget how their Parents treat each other, whether it be physical or mental abuse. May GOD richly bless you.

  17. Donna G Says:

    Michael,
    Thank you for a beautifully written piece and for letting us into your childhood. I’m very sorry for your abusive childhood…but glad that you & your dad finally reconciled. May God continue to bless you & your family.

  18. God Bless you for this message. I’ve never had to lived in anything like this, but know that many people do. It wasn’t easy for you to write this. You or a wonderful person.

  19. Thank you for your honesty and willingness to share this story. You are such an example of God’s Grace and His abilitiy to restore our lives to go on and live the life that He designed for you.

  20. My daughter has just started working at a women’s shelter. She prayed about this and felt it was something God was calling her to do ,Blessing’s to all who are there for these broken heart’s. And thank you for shareing

  21. Thank you Michael for opening up and saying what many of us cant bring ourselves to tell about our father abused lives. It just remains too horrid to express. I am glad you have found peace in your life. God bless you and your family.

  22. sandra hatcher Says:

    Dear Michael

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I thank God that I never have had to live in a abusive family. I was blessed with loving parents and a very good man for a husband and father to our sons. But my sister and some of my friends have not been as blesssed. This will help some to know there is a way out. God bless you

  23. Mike Finley Says:

    Thank you for sharing this story, Michael. It is one that neads to be told. My precious mother had a horrible childhood because of her wife-beating, drunken dad. I just read this to her and she wept. She said how tragic it was that back then, in the 30’s and 40’s, my poor grandmother had absolutely no where to go. There were no shelters, she had no money to run, no family to help. Even the church turned it’s back on her, and forget the police back then, because they were my grandpa’s buddies, and thought he was a great man. My mother is 78 years old, but those sad memories still haunt her. I wish my grandmother could have gotten away. She died at only 49 years of age. I think past injuries were part of it. Thankfully, nowadays, women do have options and help to get away. No one should have to live like that, ever! Michael, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing this story and trying to make a difference. God Bless You, Sir!

  24. My first marriage was like your Parents story. My ex husband was verbally and Physically abusive and has mental problems and I realized that after it was too late.Only a few people saw the damage he ever did to me. My sons never understood what was happening because they were so very young ( 3 and 4 years old ) when it got really bad and out of control.
    My oldest son finally remembered something one day and questioned me about what happened one night and was it real? My son realized that memory was real after asking me and seeing me just look at him and totally break down and sob. He realized the truth then.My ex had come home mad , yelling and drunk and ripped off my night gown.Then he threw us all in the jeep and drove me from Greenville to Pelzer to the river where i was raped, hit and beaten in front of my two screaming babies who were still in their car seats watching everything and then I was dragged back home, bloody and terrified and he went to bed and passed out.

    Yet I stayed out of fear because he threatened to do damage to my boys and to hurt all of us. I called my Parent in laws and told them to please come get the boys that night, I could not take care of the babies because I was injured.
    My mother in law was the first one to finally see the damage to me the next morning.Rug burns and bruises and rocks and bloody scratches down my sides and back. She packed us up and took us home. My ex went for counseling at Marshall Pickens but checked himself out early and broke into his parents home to steal the oldest boy and his parents finally got a look at the monster I had been living with for all those years. They protected me as much as they could through the years.
    I wanted to protect my sons and just get them through HS so I stayed out of fear for my children for 17 years.
    One day my oldest had enough of the loud verbal abuse and put my ex almost through a wall. That was my sign that my life was going to start changing. My youngest always believed his dad and never gave my side a second thought because he was too small to remember anything. He still hates me to this day but the oldest started questioning family and everyone about things and found out what the truth really was all about for all those years. When so many people tell the exact same story then there is something to it.
    Things finally came to a point that I could not take living with it anymore and I would leave everything and start a new life rather than be anywhere near this man. I got a divorce as fast as I could and wanted nothing but to be away from him. My sons were 17 and 18 and had jobs and cars so I knew they would be OK.
    My youngest son has NO clue what I lived with and only blames me for the family falling apart and said it was all my fault. He was there the last night when my ex and i had a fight and i had to get stitches for the damage done. MY own son would not call 911 yet saw me in the floor bleeding and crying. He was so happy that his dad divorced that “Bad Mother”. If he only knew.

    Now 10-12 years later…My life and new marriage are amazingly good and very blessed now. I have contact with everyone but my youngest son and a few of my exes family and friends -haters who believe his lies still and that he would never do the things he has been accused of doing. I can show all of the scars, hospital reports and the 911 calls and police and Doctor and marriage counseling reports on what he said and told the truth of what he did. But even with the paperwork and all the proof but they would never listen to me.
    I applaud you for realizing the truth and telling it publicly. The hurt never goes away but life does go on and things do get a whole lot better! Children do NOT have to be a product of their environment. They can be better and do amazing things with their lives! God bless you and your family.

  25. Doireann Says:

    This is so powerful. Thank you. You and Patrick Stewart…such good men.

  26. What a well written story. I couldn’t peel my eyes off any of the words. You are a natural born storyteller and writer. I’m so glad you broke the cycle. What an incredible inspiration you are. The fact that you made up with your father is the absolutely best ending. So happy for you both.

  27. What a Amazing story of survival. Thank you So much for sharing.

  28. Diane Robison Says:

    Thank you so much for your story. I to was a child who lived in a home with abuse from my father. He eventually killed my mother when she was only 33 years old leaving me and my two brothers without parents or our home. It has effected me my whole life and only recently have I been able to get past some of those terrible times. Thank you so much again. I pray your story will help a lot of women out there to get the much needed help to get away from those kind of situations. God bless you Michael!!!!

  29. ThIs is so important. Thank you

  30. Sue Burton Says:

    Michael, I am so touched by your beautiful message. I, too, grew up in the shadow of an alcohol-driven violent man. I, too, divorced him, though my mother could not. He tried to conquer his demons, but unsuccessfully. It has only been since his death that my mother, now 91 years old, has been able to blossom. How I wish she had those years of hiding her talents to please him and had been able to see what she could become, and now is. I add mine to your message that wives and children of violent men leave, sooner rather than late, while you can. Staying benefits no one in these situations, and can result in permanent damage or death.

  31. Please read my blog: http://www.stilladiva.blockspot.com You will see that you are not alone. I was determined that the cycle would stop with me. I refused to bring my children up in this type of environment.

  32. Back handers anonymous Says:

    can’t wait to go home and beat my wife…better hurry, the liquor store closes in 25 mins…..

    • I can scarcely harvest words to hold how deeply you offend. You are an affront to me, to my father’s memory, and to peace-loving human souls here and everywhere. I pray you find the peace that eludes you. I approve your comment here in order that others may see a naked truth. I am able to forgive you, even if this is a twisted, utterly failed venture at humor. Again, peace to you.

  33. Michael, thank you for sharing this for the world to read. As an Incest Survivor, I admire anyone who has the courage to share their story so that others may learn. God bless you.

  34. Thank you for this. Beautifully written, brutally honest and absolutely heartbreaking. I’m so sorry for what you had to endure.

  35. Joan Bentley Says:

    Michael ,you are such a true trooper and to have been raised as you were and mistreated by your Dad I am honored to have met you at the Jefferson Award in 2004. You are such a sweet and humble man. God Bless you, Joan

  36. Heather Christopher Says:

    I had no idea! We have watched you for years on WYFF. Thank you for sharing your story! So encouraging to help others!

  37. I am also from a home that consisted of a father who drank too much. Fortunately, there were only a few times that he was physically abusive to my mother, my brother, or me. On the other hand, there was verbal abuse. My mother did decide to leave when I was twelve and my brother was ten. She divorced my dad. At the age of twelve, I was devastated and didn’t understand. My dad died when I was sixteen. His death was basically the result of alcoholism.

    My mom did get out and made a difficult choice to become a single mother. Various members of our extended family diligently tried to fill the “gap” for us and I am thankful for them.

    I am also an outlier. Like you, I did not choose to be like my father or choose a husband like him. I am so very fortunate to have a loving caring husband who is been an awesome father to our children. Thank you for taking time to tell your story.

  38. Michael, I have heard you, Carol and Nigel speak and give part of your testimony on His Radio. I admire those in public eye who stand up for their faith and now even more because of the common bond that we share. I wish my father had repented before he passed but as far as I know he felt little remorse and we did not have much contact his last 5 years. I had the blessing of a step Father who showed more love to Mother, my sister and I than had ever expected. Forgiveness was easy after I came to know Jesus Christ as Savior. I was forgiven much and could not help but love my father even though he did not ask nor want it. The memories are horrible but they remind me of what I do not want to be and that, God my heavenly Father uses to strengthen me.’ All things work together for my good’. Thank you for your beautifully written testimony.

  39. Michael,
    I understand where you have been,because I have been there myself. I chose a different life for myself and that’s what made me the woman, mother, and grandmother I am today. God has given me that peace.

  40. So wonderfully illustrated. My first marriage was with an abusive man. After 14 years of marriage I finally took my 3 children and left him. Along with all worldly possessions. A lot of people don’t understand why someone would stay in an abusive situation but like your mother had stated she feared what the Bible said about divorce.
    Today my oldest daughter has severed ties with her father and the other 2 children do not remember much to have any feelings about the abuse. I am happily remarried to a man who loves me. The only time he touches me, it is with gentleness and love. I praise God for his protection. “He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.” Psalm 40:2

  41. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am a mother who left. My son was 3. He got visitation rights and often took our son to the local bars. One of his stops was Ruby Tuesdays where he would drink and leave our son to visit the arcade next door unsupervised. I tried to protect my son throughout his youth from the noise surrounding his father. My own father, tried to fill the gap. It took a long time for me to accept another relationship, one in which was was not a promiscuous. When our son turned 9 “we” remarried. At the age 19, my son and I where called into court, his father falsely accused him of stealing child support, which was designated to go through the courts. Our son walked out of the courtroom on that day and told me that he was done. I didn’t understand the meaning of his words. However, he “divorced” him.. Today, at the age of 24 my son lives in Colorado. I miss him terribly but we talk often. Funny as it may sound, although our lives drastically changed when my husband walked into our lives 15 years ago. I often feel guilty for choosing my sons father. I pray everyday for my son to be the man that God intended. Thank you for your words of comfort.

  42. I WAS IN A ABUSIVE MARRIAGE HE HIT ME SOBER OR DRUNK MY KIDS DO NOT REMEMBER BECAUSE I DECIDED TO LEAVE AND NOT LET THEM BE RAISED IN THAT LIFE AS I NEVER GREW UP THAT WAY THEY ARE GROWN BUT STILL DO NOT KNOW THE WHOLE STORY AS THEY DO NOT SEE THEIR DAD ANYWAY I HAVE PUT IT PAST ME A LONG TIME AGO BUT I DECIDED NEVER TO BE HIT AGAIN THANKS FOR YOUR STORY I CRIED FOR YOU AND YOUR MOM

  43. Valerie Says:

    Hi, I grew up with a father who was violent to me in secret. I married a violent man who was worse then my dad. I endured it for 6.5 years and then took our 2 young children and fled. If not for the grace of God we would have been killed at his hands. That was 1986 when we fled, but he still stalks and has me stalked to this day. God has been watching over us in spite of his evil intentions. And I agree with you whole heartedly that it is better to leave. To get help. Get as far away as possible. Get help. Read books, get counseling, preferably Christian counseling, for you and your children. Ask God for help, forgive, but do not forget the lessons learned. My prayers are with all who suffer at the hands of another, be it a woman, child or man (my ex mother-in-law was abusive to her husband).

  44. I grew up with a wonderful father. Yes, he did drink but just got funny. I was so blessed and have memories of a beautiful childhood. I however was aware of the evil in many families. My father always encouraged me to get an education and a profession and was proud of me when I did. I realize now that this was his way of making it possible to have choices in my life. So many women become stuck in marriages because they have no place to really go and no abililty to support themselves. I remember having a job between my sophmore and junior year of college in a car claims office where on a daily basis men from body shops came in to get checks for their work. As I was preparing to leave for the remainder of my college one of the men said “why are you going to school all you’re going to do is get married and have children”. I was so shocked. I responded with “that may be the case but if I am widowed or married to a man who becomes a monster I will have choices in my life.” He just stared at me and had no response. My wonderful husband and I have raised our children to know that education gives you choices and I’m proud to say both our girls are confident independant gals who know the value of having choices and the value of an education. I do believe this is also an important aspect of the “sticking with it” that plagues these women. Bless you for your story!

    • Lynn, when I hear of someone dismissing education, it’s like witnessing one refusing to breathe. My father prized education for me because he never had the chance to get his. It’s one of the beautiful gifts he left for me. Blessings to you. Cheers to learning, for to learn is to set the mind and the self free!! Peace to y’all.

  45. Bruce Barton Says:

    I have followed Michael’s career since the first day he came to Greenville. I had no idea he was from such turmoil. I have more admiration for you now than I have had before. You,Michael have been in the “FOX HOLE” and survived.I am eighty six years old and the best is yet to come,hang in there and bon voyage. God bless you and your family.

  46. Hi,

    I am a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Lesotho, southern Africa. Unfortunately, your story is a universal story, and I’m going to share this on Facebook in hopes of my local friends here reading it and sharing it. Divorce or even leaving abuse in any way is considered a terrible act here (as it often is back home). Thank you for sharing your story…it really does take the strongest kind of man to be gentle and kind!

    • Tara, you’re right about the universality of this dreadful crime of the body, heart and mind. I pray the world understands people trump marriage. Divorce is a divine act of liberation for the abused. Peace to you, and please share the blog at loving will!! I’m honored!

  47. Thank you for stepping out of your “comfort zone” to tell your story. I am a survivor of Domestic Violence as a child and wife. Leaving and gaining my freedom to love the Lord and have a blessed life was priceless! I have been free since March 17, 2006. I have started a faith based non – profit organization to bring awareness and help women and children living in domestic violence in the Upstate area called Totes of Hope. So many people just want to “brush it under the rug’ and that has to stop. SC ranking 2nd worst in the nation for deaths due to an intimate partner is unacceptable! 1 of 5 teenage girls reporting violence from their partners is unacceptable! People that the community recognize, such as yourself, brings more weight than you may imagine. Thank you for using your popularity in such a positive way! May God bless you and yours!!

  48. Michaeline Says:

    It took me 49 years to set boundaries for my mother to respect. Once I did, it took her one day to disown me, my husband, and our two boys. It’s been since Dec. 2011.

  49. Touching, emotional, real. Thanks for sharing such a personal and sad situation. So happy you made the decision you did. God Bless You, Michael!

  50. Thank you Michael! I was the wife of an abuser for many years. But I got out with 4 sons which only one can remember the abuse. My father was a Baptist preacher and one day he told me ” I don’t believe in divorce but you need to get out before he kills you or you him.” A year later my ex strangled me and held a knife to me and told me I needed to die. He knocked me down and I couldn’t walk for hours and was taken to emergency room. It took that incident for me to finally make the decision to leave with my children. That was in 1994. I worked hard and gave my sons a new home and life! My ex died in 2005 alone and still drinking. My boys did not have any emotion for his death which is sad. Again I thank you for sharing!

  51. Kelley Light Says:

    A FB friend shared your story…thank you for sharing it for others to read…we all have a story to tell…I hope one day to do the same! God is good and I’m overwhelmed by His amazing love and faithfulness in my life…It was many years’ ago, but I’ll never forget your kindness shown to me when you stopped to help me change my tire…I believe I was in your neighborhood! Thank you again for your help…there were some workers nearby who never even showed an interest to come over and help me…I’m sure you were busy, but you stopped to help…your were my “good Samaritan” that day! :)

  52. Jo Thompson Says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. May peace be with you always

  53. ghislaine Says:

    first of all It’ s been a dream since I ‘m eighteen.when I saw in France the color of purple!!!!!! great movie I want to speak to u. I’m peacemaker. passing messages.I wanto meet speak to

    Oprah Winfrey!! violence and abuse woman still going thru. with the little change!!

  54. This is a sad but the circumstances r so true! I stayed & now my children, tho grown, hate! I was raised u marry 4 a lifetime & men r always right! They provide with needs such as food & house, the wife provides all else! Well he finally left me & his 2 children! I remarried a minister, a great man! But BC of divorce we r not accepted as pastors although my husband was in that position when we met & still longs to fulfill his calling! But our judgement & sentence here on earth seems 2 b signed & sealed! So should I have begged him to stay? To let my kids continue to hear, scream & cry? Or say nothing about him leaving & try to pursue a God given & blessed life 4 myself & my 2 kids? Which, as I said, now hate! Resentment has overtaken my children, especially my daughter, the oldest that still cries @ 26 & my son refuses to b called by his fathers name which was given to him @ birth! What did I do rong? Stay too long? Or let him leave too easily?

  55. Mary Milner Says:

    What an awesome testimony! How great is our God! Thank you Michael for sharing. I know it could not have been easy. May God bless you and yours!

  56. Don’t forget..there is parent abuse too..how do you leave…

    • Seek professional counseling immediately. Please don’t despair, simply living in abuse. Act. Act on your own behalf. Self care is a calling to each of us. Peace to you.

  57. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez Says:

    May I please give a copy of this to 350 parents and professionals I work with? I will include the permalink or URL at the bottom.

  58. Thank you for sharing. I stayed in an abusive relationship also out of fear of what God says about divorce. I finally left when he chose to cheat on me. I am now happily married to the kindest most loving man I have ever met, aside from my father. There truly is hope and help for those who need it.

  59. Tracey Garcia Says:

    My mother went through the same with my father for many years. She had listened to her parents about if you make the mistake you live with it. She was married 16 years before I came. All her siblings suffered the same fate. Her fathers last days he told my mother to leave my father. It was the last few words they shared. She was going to after the death of her father,but soon after she found out she was pregnant with me. Her first and only child.She stayed another two years before realizing she didn’t want me to be raised knowing this sort of evil. I’m so sorry you had to live through that. God bless you and I believe we are stronger because of the bad we have to endure. My mother is a very strong women.

  60. I had no idea you had such a beautiful way with the written word. What a poignant essay on a difficult topic. I suspect that this piece will give someone the courage to seek safety. For others, it may serve as a beacon of hope for eventual reconciliation.

  61. Grace Filled Says:

    I want to add here that I wholeheartedly agree that abuse such as what you went through is horrible, and it changes us in ways that are so deep. We can go to counseling, but the wounds are still there. Unfortunately, I married an abusive man, who will not let me out. I mean, he has taken me through 3 divorces and never once completed any of them. I do not have enough money to pay the abusive attorneys, who seemed bent on taking his narcissistic personality seriously and further endangering my children. No, the DV shelters did not help, particularly since I have a special needs son, and homelessness is constantly on the horizon unless I continue to pray diligently and try to work from home. I am still struggling to make money. My family has abandoned us and the last time I asked my mother for help, she set me up as if I am the criminal and we ended up right back here. I wish that there was a social solution for real help, but frankly, you are blessed if that happens to you. I am not uneducated, but if there is no help, then how am I supposed to get out. My sons and I have been beat up the local officials and the court system. Only God can give us justice and help.

  62. Michael, Thank you for committing this to words. There are many of us, who, like you, were victims of abuse. Some of us survived and some of us survived ‘well’. In the story of forgiveness, which also happened in my heart and life, is the saving grace. I am daily grateful for my life, with all it’s experience. Reading this tonight touched me and made me feel less alone.

  63. L. Friedman Says:

    Thank you, Michael Cogdill, for your courage in writing this. I hope many lives will be saved as a result.

  64. Kellie Griffin Says:

    This was an amazing story. Brought tears to my eyes as I’ve gone trough similar situations. Thank you for sharing this story and telling everyone that change can happen and that no one should live this way and that God knows the pain and would never want that.. Again great!! And thank you!

  65. Beautifully crafted! Brought tears to my eyes…. I have been through domestic violence myself and yes no matter how much you move past it, you don’t forget. I feel your pain but I’m so happy that you have turned out to be so much better and your voice will be heard. I took the liberty of sharing your note on my FB note with a link to your blog. Thank you for this note.

  66. This is a beautiful story. Sad how many people live this life. A wonderful miracle that you can be a survivor. Important to forgive, not necessary to forget. As a child I lived it. Both my father and mother succumbed to the demon alcohol. I divorced them both in my mind and in my heart, my father gladly, my mother sadly. In my sixties now, I have had a good adult life by many standards. Ups and downs, but I’ve been tough. I chose the path of survival. It is not an easy path to take and requires work. I live in peace, mostly forgiving of myself for I am not perfect, and proud of my journey . I have amazing blessings for which I am grateful to God. And I look forward to decades of continuing this journey and being thankful for my blessings. It is good to stop and reflect.

  67. Thank you for sharing. Abuse can be mental and emotional too. I grew up in Brady Bunch family but married a man that emotionally abused me. Took a long time to understand that it was his problem not mine. It was only with professional help that I finally admitted it and was able to get the strength to leave. It is still hard as I keep wishing the good man would win out over the demon. I still love the “good” man but can’t survive or live with the other side. The roller coaster ride is over. I am living with peace now.

    • ann jones Says:

      mental abuse leaves scars on the inside sometimes so deep it takes a lifetime to even begin the healing process—I too was mentally abused as a child and as a wife in a marriage of fifty two years–but am finally realizing at age of 70—Go
      d never meant for me to live a long ,lonely life on this earth–just because other people decided /choose not to see me as a worthy person—legally sep next month and am looking forward to living the remainder of my days as a useful,valuable child of God–even if I do wind up being an old,happy divorcee—God bless you always

  68. How wonderfully brave to share your story Michael. Thank you for confirming that my choice to leave was the right choice.

  69. Very well written. I applaud you for speaking out and encouraging others to do the same. Great will be your reward in Heaven.

  70. Michael. Very well written. I am very grateful that you are speaking out about this and are encouraging others to do the same. Great will be your reward!

  71. I am the child that was abused. I never saw the abuse but felt the wrath. It was never caused by alcohol, just a cruel, terrible, mean man. I too divorced my father. I am 48-yrs old and he tries to make contact w/ me at least once a year and denies all abuse. He has used the Bible (when he admitted it once) as giving him the right to do what he did. I still have nightmares that are so real that I sometimes scream out in my sleep. Michael, I have watched you for years and would have never guessed. I am happy for you and your father. My ex-father and I will never reunite as he will never make the admission or apologize. I made a promise to myself that I too would never be an abuser and would never see the fear in my children’s eyes that I know he saw in mine. Gratefully, my grown children, grew up happy and loved. Like you, people would never guess that I grew up w/ such horrible circumstances. I am successful and happy, no thanks to him. For those out there being abused, you are stronger than your abuser. Don’t let them win! Forgiveness is for you.

    • Michael I came from an abusive home too. I choose not to tell you about it because it know longer controls me. Through years of therapy I learned that he was the sick one. not me. Back in the fifties you didn’t hear about Divorce. There Know shelters For women. My Mom was afraid of his threats to kill us if we left. She said she stayed for me. That is why I thought I was the broken one. When I turned 18 I left and went to my cousins House. I stayed there for 3 weeks. I had told my Mom You might choose to live this way but I’ through. Wasn’t long until I got married not long after. In the beginning of my Marriage I was so messed up I thought all men were mean and spiteful. I put my poor husband through torment . He helped me get the help I needed . Now we have been married 46 years. Help can be had. I know longer. Punish him I cherish him. Michael You have done a good thing here. Look at all the replies . Sometimes people just pack it back. Your piece gave them the courage to seek out . My prayer is that they will get some help.

  72. Carol Richardson Says:

    Thank you for being a true witness for the Lord. He would not want anyone to live under your circumstances or your moms. She was faithful and just so God has honored his promises by allowing her to live and wants you to continue to be a strong witness. Praying that this testimony will help others come to the Lord.No one shall enter the gates of heaven but through him. May your life continue to be blessed and allow the Lord to guide your every direction. In Christian Love,Carol Richardson- Elberton Ga.

  73. Fran Coffey Says:

    My father was an alcoholic. my brothers and sisters and I lived a very unusual life also. We thought it was normal….Our mother probably suffered the most. However, ten years before my father’s death, he was able through the power of God to receive Christ and quit drinking. He lived with a lot of regret . But he did his best to restore what he could to us in love. thank you for sharing your heart. I pray God will bless you abundantly for your transparency in trying to help others.

  74. I know the pain.

  75. I must compliment you on your excellent writing skills! I’ve enjoyed watching Channel 4 news since I moved to SC in ’92. I was shocked to hear your story but intrigued by how you were able to overcome this tragic time in your life. Thank you for sharing this…it means a great deal who has been there.

  76. Betty Noblitt Says:

    Thank you Michael for sharing your story and trying to help others in abusive situations. Your words may save lives. God bless you. i am so glad WYFF finally realized your worth and gave you the job as Co-anchor with Carol. I thought if he is good enough to fill in this long why don’t they give him the job. They made a good decision. Keep up the good work! God bless.

  77. Leslie Canfield Says:

    This is amazing, We rarely hear the haunting past of respected gentle men like yourself. I have an intensified respect for you. God can do anything if we allow Him to.

  78. Wow I can truly relate on both side of this matter, as the child, and as the wife. She to grows into the same pattern as her mother and sister. I finally was strong enough to get my child out.

  79. Thank you for sharing your story so beautifully. I pray that it gives someone the hope to know that even relationships that are as broken as yours was with your father, God’s love provides a pathway to redemption, if the abuser will humble themselves. Many blessings to you.

  80. Diane Bailey Says:

    I never knew this watching you every night on the news. You never know what goes on behind closed doors. Blessings to you my brother. Thanks for sharing your heart. I shared your blog on my FB page…..

  81. Linda Foley Says:

    Michael, you have shown great courage in telling others about your home situation. All too often people who are abused become abusers. A first cousin to what you experienced is bullying, especially among young children and even teens. As a newspaper reporter in days gone by, I wrote about abusive situations and how professionals encourage adults and children alike to GET AWAY AND SEEK HELP. There was a time in my own past when I had to do exactly that with much help from my God. Michael, thank you for your bravery and for caring enough about others to warn those in abusive situations to LEAVE. May God bless you for trying to help others!

  82. Your story tears as my heart. As a survivor of domestic abuse, I know that some memories never go away. But it is through people like you giving a face and a voice to this much too common problem in our society that we can work to make a difference. Domestic abuse is an equal opportunity demon that crosses all socioeconomic lines, races, gender … Thank you for sharing your story of sorrow and success.

  83. I was also a Child who lived my life like this. I left too. But I went on to be married into three abusive marriages. I thought it was normal.. Because that was all I had ever known.

    • Michelle, you have much company around the world in that distorted sense of normal. All of us who grew up as we did have to break the chains of it and sustain ourselves in the truth that God wants none of us living in even a hint of a threat of violence — of hand or word. Peace to you, my friend!!

  84. Michael – I left my first comment a few days ago, saying as many others have in these comments, that I shared a similar childhood having alcoholic/abusive parents (both them).

    I became so intrigued with your writing, that I read several other of your earlier excellent blog posts. I noted that most of your posts received 2 or 3 comments. In stark contrast, this topic has now received almost 100 comments. I think this is amazing, wonderful, and a testimony to the prevalence of spousal abuse, child abuse, alcoholism, dysfunctional childhoods and more.

    Perhaps more importantly, it speaks to the depth at which these experiences leave emotional and psychological wounds on those who lived such childhoods. Your story, written and published, has encouraged so many to speak out about their wounds whether they are in the journey of healing or may yet someday begin that journey.

    • Joanie, you’re absolutely right, this has resonated because of the pervasiveness of the shared experience. I long to have this blog and our Chronicle forge life-altering, lifesaving, solutions for victims. May abusers, too, see their behavior for what it is — criminality destined to destroy their families, their legacies and their lives.

      Cheers to hope, and to real love, which lives only in peace,
      m

  85. What a powerful testimony. I thank God for your obedience to Him, which will lead countless others to peace and joy in Christ.

    I’m from Toccoa Ga and I enjoy watching you daily.

    May God forever bless and keep you and your family.

  86. Michael, I am thankful that I never had to go through any of the things you endured. My dad was a Church of God preacher and my mom was a wonderful saint. We were taught the love of God and to respect one another. I have know many who have gone through what you did and were afraid to leave. I am thankful that you left and caused your dad to see what he was doing. I am glad you reconciled. I know you never forget bad things that happen to you and your family, but God will take care of us if we just trust in him and seek help. Thank you again for sharing this story and God Bless you and your family.

  87. I pray that your story will help restore broken lives. I’ve watched you on WYFF for years and is great to see the wonderful man you have become. God Bless You, Michael!

  88. I remember watching you on the news as I was growing up in Upstate, SC. What a sad, terrible time that you and your Mom had to endure. Thank you for sharing this story. I have been fighting something similar but not nearly as bad (in some ways) as what you and your mother had to endure. Begging for him to change resonates in my mind so much. Yet, there is nothing I can do to change him. I pray daily that the Lord will be pleased to change his heart which is the true essence of the problem. Living with someone who lives his life around alcohol is such an emotional roller coaster as you know and takes such a tremendous toll on the family.

    I thank my Lord for His many blessings to me, for keeping me safe, yet I know that the time is quickly approaching that I must leave, and the Lord is providing means for me to do that. How wonderful to read of your faith which has sustained you and your Mother’s faith as well. I am thankful you were able to forgive him and find true peace.

    I pray the Lord will bless you richly as you seek to serve Him!

  89. Celeste Says:

    Hi Michael,
    Thanks for sharing such an emotional and personal part of your life. My husband who is 56 years old was abused by his father when he was 4 years old. The abuse continued until he was about 14 years old. At 14 years old he stayed out all night and when both his parents did not say anything to him or discipline him for being out all night, he knew they did not care. I think his mother cared but was afraid to say anything in fear of what her husband would do to her. My husband moved out at the age of 17. He had a difficult life with drinking and drugs and getting many DUIs in the 70’s, but during that time he managed to keep working and paying his bills. When he was in his mid 30’s he made the decision to have a vasectomy because in his mind he wanted to child abuse to end with him. He was afraid he would be a child abuser like his father was to him. To this day he does not regret that decision not to have children. He still has nightmares to this day of his father beating him. He is a kind and gentle man and loves my grandchildren and they love him very much and he is wonderful with them. Child abuse never goes away no matter how old you are. I applaud you for sharing such an awful part of your life. When I read your story I could not help but think of my husband being abused and how it still affects him today 52 years later. My heart breaks for my husband as he has social anxiety and does not have any friends. This is the outcome of this abuse. He is a kind and loving husband but he has been hurt in more ways than anyone can know except another person who has been abused by a parent.

    • Celeste, I grieve the heartbreak, yet laud the triumphs of that man you love. May he seek the healing balm of talk therapy. It truly helps. Some EMDR might benefit him as well. Peace to you both!!

  90. truly a great story , so many live this way and so many dont make it out . I respect you for telling your story and I hope an abuser reads it and changes before its to late . Alcohol was in my mom and dad family . my dad became an alcoholic , my brother that has passed from suicide was and my baby brother is . I pray families seek help . God bless you for your story

  91. Thank you for having the strength to share this I have not shared my story because I dont want to bring shame to my mom. Instead of my dads violence being from a bottle his was his mind he was bipolar. We didnt know why he changed and why he would be so mentally emotionally and physically abusive until he retired. His episodes use to be a few a year but it got to be monthly weekly and sometimes even only hours and he would change. Finally after I realized the abuse was trickling down to my children I spoke with our doctor feeling there really was something wrong with this man. After a week stay in a hospital he was bipolar and paranoid. He promised he would work on himself more counseling and he would take his meds. I didnt get a mile away from that hospital and that mean angry man was back I hate myself for not turning that car right around and taking him back. His doctor said he was good he even had him believing he wanted to change for his family that he did love us all. He only loves himself and his bank accounts. After a few months my mom finally had enough she knew he would hurt her seriously if she stayed. He refused treatment so refused him. He has now been out of our lives for over 20 yrs. I hate he missed my children growing up he missed so much as they are so good and special he missed birthdays, graduations, weddings and the birth of his 1st great grand child but he chose his life without his family. Do I miss him NO I miss a father who could encourage me, one who could accept me for me even though I graduated from college worked had a family I was never good enough never did it his way I missed walking down the aisle on his arm because the man I chose was not good enough he wasnt a doctor,lawyer, judge or a millionaire so I never got the dress the day to share I was married without my family. He did become close to his son in law when he told him lies that I cheated with all the men I worked with he caused problems in innocent peoples mariages to hurt me cause he couldnt beat my mom or me any more

  92. 1 year of living with a mean selfish man.
    1 punch.
    1 restraining order.
    1 year of required separation.
    1 divorce.
    1 beautiful, happy, blessed, redeemed, SURVIVOR

    I am the last 1.

    Thank you for sharing and renewing this conversation with Greenville and the world.

  93. Michael, Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am so glad that you chose another path and your life and testimony has been exemplary as a result. There is so much of this stuff going on and for the most part, I believe the church is often to blame that many do not leave abuse but stay. I lived with his verbal, emotional, economical, and psychological abuse for 13 years when my 3 teens finally came to me and said “why are we still here? If you do not make him go we are leaving”. That made me realize that I stayed too long. I did go to our pastor’s wife and she told me that I was not allowed to say anything negative against my husband and that I needed to be more submissive, and to just sit down and take it. She also told me that my kids had no right to come to me and complain about what their dad was saying to them. I now consider her advice to me that day as spiritual abuse and very dangerous.

    After my ex attacked me, the police put him in jail and I was able to obtain a restraining order, along with an order of protection, and eventually separation and divorce. I encourage anyone living in abuse to seek ways of safely getting out as soon as is possible, especially for the children. They are the innocent ones that have to live with the memory of what happened while they were kids. It takes some kids many years to get over what happened, and some never never really do, emerging as young adults with serious problems. Also, we were fortunate that my ex did not lie to the police when they came to our house, but admitted to what he had done. Most abusers will lie their way out of a conviction, and possibly an arrest by saying they were protecting themselves from an attack, etc. After reading so many stories of others, I know we did not have it nearly as bad as many have, but it was bad enough to make our household miserable most of the time and somewhat dangerous at times. A friend found us an experienced family trauma counselor, and she has helped the kids and me so much to talk out and deal with all that has happened. It’s a work in progress and will take time. It is worth the effort and cost. My children are doing much better now.

  94. Jennifer Says:

    Thank you. This can be difficult to articulate. I know all too well. Fear is what keeps most women trapped. It isn’t until we face that fear that the chains of bondage can be broken with God’s help and power, of course. A year and a half ago I made him leave us, but just this summer the anger got worse, so I took my three children and ran to the next county. Sometimes it can get worse before it gets better. It’s been a long journey…. But I must have faith that all will get better even when it seems impossible . God bless you! This story is empowering in that I know I’m doing the right thing for my children. Thanks again.

  95. […] be raised in an environment such as this. I encourage you to read all of Michael Cogdill’s stirring account of his experiences growing up in a home where his father beat his mother. Cogdill says his mother […]

  96. sandy camp Says:

    wow-never would have dreamed that happened to you. It brought tears to my eyes. I am so sorry it DID happen. What strength you have to tell your story so that others will have hope as well. I admire how you were able to break the cycle…not an easy thing to do. Wishing God’s blessings on you and yours!!

  97. Thank you for writing this. I suffered abuse from not one man but two. Neither of which were alcoholics just sick broken men. The last one, which I stayed way too long, sexually, emotionally, and verbally abused both me and my daughter and I am sure he is still out there praying on other innocents who just want to help him. The problem is, he doesn’t want help. He likes being the bully, the abuser. It makes him feel powerful and in control all the while never realizing he is totally out of control.

    It is only through making other’s aware that they are not alone, that other’s have suffered and are suffering do we begin to help those stuck in impossible situations.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t consider myself a victim, because in doing so gives him the power he so desperately desires.

  98. Powerful story. I have seen many ladies stay with abusive men. I feel blessed to have a wonderful family, never any violence in our home. Thanks for telling your story.

  99. […] I wrote a post about religious justification for spousal abuse, linking to Michael Cogdill’s excellent post about his horrific experience as a child in an abusive […]

  100. annette ramey auld Says:

    I grew up in Westminster SC with similar ccircumstances. There were 4 of us. 2 boys, 2 girls. She stayed for 13 yrs. I have the same bloody memories. I was 11 when we left him. So grateful for the good men my brothers became. We all 4 have no tolerance for this kind of violence. I now live in Fl but watched u on TV for most of my adult life. I’m 45 now. Thank you for sharing your personal story with all of us. I pray it gives tormented women the courage to leave. We have all forgiven and made peace with my dad but the scars are permanent.

  101. It has only been a little over 24 years now that I haven’t been abused by someone in some way. That’s a lot of lost years as I will be 65 in August. Once abused long enough, you feel it normal. I was abused in all ways–physical, emotional and sexually by those who were suppose to love and protect me. My children were abused emotionally and physically also, until one night I finally told myself no more. My husband–a top marriage and family counselor. Unfaithful in all ways and very controlling. A top leader in our church and very deceptive. Hit for the last time, running and having to hide with no where to go, except with the help of a wonderful friend did I make it out. He checked himself into a mental clinic and his doctor talked to me via phone from an undisclosed place, that I had to be commended for finally leaving when I did or I would have ended up dead. All I feel now is sorrow for him. I have forgiven so that I may go forth now. It is still hard as I suffer from PTSD and will always carry the scars. I and my children did seek counseling. There is still much more to the story as I also knew as much in his field as he did and worked with child abuse. Please don’t stay, only you can break that circle and you will be the winner. You are worth more than your abuser tells you are worth. You are a child of God and He doesn’t want you to stay where it isn’t safe.

  102. […] Throwing A Bash For The Written Word « Untwisting Normal: The Power of Divorcing My Father […]

  103. laceyadams25 Says:

    Wow, this brings tears to my eyes. I am a master’s student at Fullsail University that started my own blog, laceywantstohelp.com and I can only hope that it turns out like this. This is the truth about domestic violence, with an air of total resolve. This is truly an awesome bog!

  104. […] I also would like to ask you to read a beautifully-written blog by a friend and local journalist, Michael Cogdill, on this subject @ http://wp.me/p145S1-gu. […]

  105. Gail Strong Says:

    Dear sweet Michael… written in a way that is real and inspirational to anyone struggling in a similar situation. Your surprising and brave revelation is a living monument to the man you have become. Truly you are a success story, and so is your dad–thanks to you and God.

  106. I LOVED THIS! LIKE I TOLD YOU ON THE PHONE,I HAVE LIVED THE LIFE OF THE TREATMENT OF YOUR MOM IN 2 RELATIONSHIPS. IT HAS MADE ME SCARED TO LOVE AND BE WITH ANYONE ELSE. YOU DID THE RIGHT THING IN YOUR TEENS,AND LOOK AT THE GREAT MAN YOU HAVE BECOME.EACH TIME I WILL WATCH YOU ON TV,I WILL KNOW YOU REALLY KNOW WHAT SO MANY OF US HAVE HAUNTING OUR PAST.GOD BLESS YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND PRAY THAT I ONE DAY WILL MEET SOMEONE I CAN TRUST AND LOVE AGAIN. YOUR FRIEND PAT BLACKWELL.

  107. Oh so powerful and well said…Thank you!

  108. patblackwell Says:

    thank you for sharing again with me micheal. the jealousy thing is so much apart of what really caused my problems. the 2 relationship that i was so physically and emotionally abused in was because the men were jealous of my children,friends,even their own family members that loved me.(i carry the physical scars that bring bak the memories so vivid.the emotional ones you can block out most of the time until youre alone or trying to sleep at night.they also can haunt your dreams, so vivid and so real that your heart is racing and you are gasping for breathe,just like its happening all over again.even to the point of waking up screaming.) but i know that god has someone out there for me that will be mine forever to help me,to love me and treat me righasht.i have so much love to give to the god-sent person he has for me.nobody ever knows what people have been through,so they shouldnt be so quick to judge others.god bless you again for sharing about your life and for us to understand what you went through,things we would have never guessed.

    • Pat, you’re so very welcome. My honor. Please take the best of care, and keep in touch.

      • pat blackwell Says:

        thank you too micheal, this means so much to me to be able to voice my comments.by seeing and reading your blog,it has helped me to realize what people,no matter their statue in life,are and have been through. god bless!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (sorry about some misspelling of some of the words,im just now learning computer,i need to remember to proofread,as we called it in elementary school.)

      • pat blackwell Says:

        again thanks to you for opening a door that so many local people can walk through without being ashamed. people that are right here in our own hometowns have been so enlightened by a person of your talent and position in the media,could help the rest of us to open up.i feel that there are people that will read your books and the blog replys and understand why some people are who they are.and why they act the way they do sometimes.people can really be cruel,without sorting through that something has happened that caused this.i have came a long ways and i want to climb even higher to make these bad memories go farther back. by hopefully getting a new job and someone special in my life,i can do this.god bless!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  109. I’ve been in an abusive relationship for almost 2 years. Loving, gentle, kind man when he’s not drinking and a beast when he is. I finally called 911 this August and I get arrested. I am having to deal with court and being called an abuser….when I have dealt with being choked out several times to where I’d wake up and not know what happened. Having my hair pulled, being pushed down, being bitten and spraining my wrists. The emotional abuse of having to go from the good to the bad and back again was just too much. I am divorcing my husband and hope he gets the help he needs because I do love him dearly. Thanks for your words – they help.

    • Tricia, I stand in ovation of your courage, your resolve not to live this way. Eros love is not enough to sustain a romantic relationship. Hold him accountable. Safely leave and stay away. Stay far away. Such accountability is the only pathway to his reformation. He is not your problem to solve. Male intimate partner abuse is a man’s problem to solve. I’m a full-hearted advocate of using accountability and a radical kind of love to do so. The love I speak of is summed up in this blog post. Leave. Let him lie in the wreckage of his own making if he insist on making it. Forgive and go.

      Bravo to you!! Cheers to your life ahead, insistent on peace.

      • Patricia Blackwell Says:

        i can really sympathise with this lady,tricia.god bless her she is doing the right thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!micheal<please get in touch with me the next time you all at wyff are going to put on a story about abuse,i have so much i can say that can help others out here.i was and still am hoping to meet a christian man who will love me and stand by me as i get use to being treated deceit by a man.its awful that a relationship that seemed so right can turn out to be so wrong.i pray that tricia and all the others out there find peace and happiness and someone to really care for them without having to be afraid.if they tell you theyre gonna change because that is when the worst is yet to come!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!god bless each and everyone who has lived in a domestic situation,because it can affect you for the rest of your life.but dont let it!!!!!!take control and say ill never go through this again because i know the warning signs.when you see and hear those warning sighs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Thank you, Pat, for your caring honesty!!! Stay tuned here, and to WYFF4!

        Peace and all goodness,
        m

      • thanks micheal for having somewhere we domestic violence people can vent!!!!!!!!!its so hard to ever trust again or be able to confide again.also please let me know the next time they are gonna aire a special on wyff tv,because i do have so much to say from the bottom of my heart.the more we can get it out there,the more people can be ready to open up and get help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  110. Hollis Smith Barnes Says:

    My father also was a very physically abusive man to my mother when he was drunk. Countless times, the glass patio doors in our home had to be replaced after he smashed them with some form of furniture. I saw him hold a gun in her stomach and swear to shoot her if she didn’t call her own mother a whore. I saw him hit her in the head with a full pot of boiling water. The damage the countless beatings caused eventually crippled her later in life. She stayed with him ‘for the good of the children’ but eventually left him when we were teenagers. Little did she realize that the four of us were already permanently scarred.

    • So very saddened by this narrative, knowing the brokenness behind it is replicated in so many households this moment. To all who are suffering and staying “for the children,” I say — LEAVE for the children. Get SAFELY out. Leaving an abuser is a dangerous time. Do so safely. But go!! To stay is destruction. To leave is to live, in liberty. That is your calling. Answer it!!
      Hollis, thank you for sharing this, and for allowing me to hold forth in its afterglow. Peace to you. Peace and wellness. Peace, everyone.

      • Patricia Blackwell Says:

        i patricia g. blackwell fully agrees with mr.barnes.i wish a thousand times over that i would have gotten away sooner.i look back and see this person took away several years of my life hoping he would change,only to see that he got worse.they will promise you the moon and stars,while in the back of their minds they are contemplating how they are going to make you more miserable.get out and never go back!!!!!!!!!!! you can do it.never trust them again.be happy.dont ever let them believe that they control you.dont ever let them tell you you have to stay with them because you cant take care of yourself.i know if i hadnt gotten out when i did,he would have killed me.god bless anyone who is going through this abuse,be it physical or emotional.and like mr.barnes states,the scars are there.and the memories.and the why didnt i get out sooner.

  111. Dawn Langston Says:

    No, you are not alone. But, I read “some of us with the worst pasts create the brightest futures”. It’s a choice. You made the right choice. It’s hard to carry the memories. Especially when everyone you are friends with would not understand. They have great memories of growing up. Thank you!

    • i can feel your pain<but keep on thinking more about the good than the bad. the bad can destroy you.please always know that people that havent been through what a lot of us has just cant understand.

  112. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well written article.
    I will be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the
    post. I’ll certainly return.

    • I am so honored, so grateful. Please, share that little piece with any and all who may need it. I wrote it to become a key that unlocks freedom from living death for countless people around the world. It’s there in the name of a newness of joy!! So thankful!! Peace and the best of times to you!!

    • its amazing what so many of us have been through in families. i myself had the mother problem,my daddy wasa wonderful man.but knowing what Micheal went through helps the rest of us.theres always skeletons in the closets!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!no matter who you are.i know that reading Micheals blogs has really helped me .

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